Beyond Features: Chapter II - Establishing the Foundations

David Pereira
David Pereira
Product Leader, Content Creator, Speaker
Posted on
Jun 6, 2022
Updated on
Dec 4, 2022
Table of Content

In the previous chapter about anti patterns, Ecbert introduced Lagertha as the new Agile Coach of Odin Enterprises. As the financial situation quickly deteriorated, Ecbert had to act quickly to prevent a tragic fate. 

Lagertha invested her first two weeks in identifying what was blocking them from creating value faster. Then, she scheduled a workshop with key business stakeholders and team Jorvik. After presenting her findings, everyone was shocked and puzzled. Ecbert didn’t let the atmosphere sink and took action. Now it’s time for them to design their business model canvas.

First, where to land, then how

As everyone awaited the next steps, Lagertha went to the whiteboard, wrote the question “What’s our vision?” and asked Ecbert to tell the group what he envisions for Odin Enterprises. Ecbert wanted direction on how to craft a vision, so he asked Lagertha for a template, but she surprised him by saying it needs to come from within. 

A great vision will be challenging, yet motivating. It should guide us to decide what to work on and what not to.

Ecbert didn’t hesitate and said, “We want to be the biggest Viking marketplace in Scandinavia.” Lagertha looked skeptical as to if something was missing, but it didn’t take long until the participants started asking questions:

Ivar: “Ecbert, this vision lacks direction. I cannot make decisions based on it. Can you please elaborate on what constitutes ‘biggest’?

Ecbert: “Well, Ivar, we want to be the most representative marketplace for tourists interested in Vikings. Whenever they come to Scandinavia, they will find whatever they need from us.

Ivar: “Do you see the problem? Any request I receive can relate to this vision. We need something authentic, and it should empower us to decide what we do and what we don’t do. Lately, every idea from anyone in this company becomes a backlog item, which removes our focus and ability to create value.

Haraldson, Marketing Director: “That resonates with me. My team struggles with what to advertise, our marketplace is too cluttered, and we sell everything. We better carefully pick where to put our energy. So far, I know Viking Tours has the best conversion rate.

Ecbert: “I get the point. We are here because we’ve been doing too many things simultaneously and couldn’t focus on delighting our customers with what matters most to them. Here’s another suggestion for our vision: To delight customers with Viking experiences. What do you think about it?

Ivar: “It’s better, and I would know what to work on. But does it mean we would offer any experience related to our Viking history?

Haraldson: “NO! We must only offer outstanding experiences; we need to curate what enters our marketplace. Something fans will never forget.

At that moment, Björn stood up, went to the board and wrote a sentence. He said aloud, “If we want to survive, we better differentiate from the competition and focus on unique experiences. Here is my suggestion for our vision:

Delighting fans with unforgettable Viking experiences."

Ecbert, Haraldson, and Lagertha nodded. Björn nailed it, and their vision was created. The participants seemed motivated and eager to work on it. Lagertha used her expertise to bring them to the next step; “Now we’ve got our vision. It’s time to work backward and define how we get there.

Crafting the Business Model

Ecbert has a technical background; he’s a hands-on CEO and loves jumping into action. As the vision statement was on the board, he said, “Now it’s time for us to craft our roadmap and agree on what we’re doing from this moment on—and I’ve got an idea.” 

Lagertha interrupted him: “Not too fast, Ecbert. We need to have a shared understanding of how the business works and our target audience. Then we can talk about a roadmap, but not before.” Ecbert nodded and just said, “OK. Then please guide us here.” Lagertha asked, “Can anyone apart from Ecbert explain our business model?

Olaf, Customer Service Director, explained: “We connect tourists with private guides, agency tours and stores that sell Viking merchandise. Our profits come from a transaction cut. I guess that’s it.

Haraldson nodded but wanted to provide more details. He mentioned that Covid-19 travel restrictions severely impacted their business. Therefore, they created virtual tours as well. He added that they tried to include ads as a new revenue stream, which unfortunately hasn’t delivered any significant profit; in fact, it distracted customers from the products.

The exchange continued for the next half an hour. Valuable information became available, and Lagertha went to the board, drew a Business Model Canvas, and filled it according to what she heard. After that, she said, “Everyone, this is our business model based on what you said. Does that reflect our reality?” Ecbert noticed something was off, adjusted the sketch and then said, “Yes. This is our current business model.

Business Model Canvas
Odin Enterprises - Business Model Canvas

Lagertha: “OK. Now we are on the same page, but coming back to our vision, will this business model help us get there?

Haraldson: “I don’t think so. We’ve got too many distractions.

Ivar: “I think some parts of our current business model don’t contribute to our vision. For example, why do we sell Viking merchandise?

Olaf: “That’s a good question. These products represent more than half of our customers’ complaints and no more than 10% of our revenue.

Lagertha: “Everybody with me. Let’s shape our business model to help us reach our vision.

Adapting the Business Model

Odin Enterprises has just realized something vital: their current business model distracts them from reaching their vision. The following aspects became evident during the workshop:

  • Ads distract users and produce little revenue
  • Viking merchandise represents 80% of customer service complaints and less than 10% of the whole revenue
  • The current business model fragments the teams’ work as they have to execute unrelated tasks

Ecbert looked thoughtful. He remained silent for several minutes but decided to surprise everyone when he spoke up: “Over the last several years, we talked about what we could add to our business, which new revenue streams could we create, etc. Our focus was always on more, but this comes to an end today. I want us to simplify our business model. We know our vision. The question now is, what can we remove?

Haraldson: “Let’s remove the ads from our website. Honestly, that sucks and distracts my team from reaching important partners.” 

Ecbert: “Done! Ads out. What else?

Björn: “Physical products should be gone. I spend too much time working on tracking orders, customer returns, refunds, and cancellations. I could focus on more relevant features than something representing only 10% of our business.

Ecbert: “Done. From now on, we don’t sell any more physical products. Haraldson and Olaf, please plan how to communicate it. Ivar, ensure this is out of our platform as soon as possible.

As the exchange went on, Lagertha updated the business model and asked the same question again: “Does this business model help us reach our vision?” The participants stared for a minute or two, and everyone said, “Yes, it helps.” Now, Odin Enterprises has a new business model that’s clear, sharp, and related to its vision.

Business Model Canvas
New Business Model for Odin Enterprises

What’s Next?

Action! That’s what Ecbert wanted next. He couldn’t hide his excitement and longed for a roadmap, and now. He went to the board and wrote in big letters, “ROADMAP.” 

Again, Lagertha slowed him down. “Ecbert, we’ve adapted our Business Model, and this is amazing, but we’re not ready for a roadmap yet. We still need to deep-dive into our customer profiles and define our strategy for tackling it.” Ecbert seemed to disagree this time; he said, “We’ve got our Vision and Business Model. What else do we need? I’m sure Team Jorvik is eager to tart getting their hands dirty.

Ivar: “Ecbert, we’ve got eleven people םn our team. It’s been tough to collaborate. We better take this moment to reflect on our customer segments and review our team structure.

Björn: “I couldn’t agree more. Our team will continue to struggle if we have to handle everything. Without focus, mediocrity is what you can expect.

Lagertha: “I understand all of you, and I don’t want us to rush anything. Let me tell you our next steps. First, we will create our customer profiles; next, we will evaluate how our teams can best organize themselves to have end-to-end responsibility, and then we can talk about the roadmap. How does that sound?

Everyone agreed with Lagertha except Ecbert. He was impatient and said, “Is it really necessary to have all of this stuff?” Björn bluntly said, “Obviously yes. If we had done it before, we wouldn’t be in this room now. Ecbert, please don’t ignore Lagertha’s experience.” 

The atmosphere was tense as everyone feared what Ecbert would do next. He took a deep breath and looked everyone in the eyes as if he would do something nobody would agree to, but he simply said, “Sorry! I’m just too excited, and I want to start getting things moving on, but we should continue doing as Lagertha suggested. Let’s create our customer profiles.

Odin Enterprises gained clarity during this chapter. They are already in a better position than before;. their vision empowered them to eliminate waste and focus. 

In the next chapter, Ecbert, Lagertha, and others will craft a Customer Profile for their audiences. Then, they will also review their current team setup to ensure they are fully empowered to create value. 

Will Ecbert empower team Jorvik, or will he succumb to the stakeholders’ wishes? Find out more in the next chapter.

About the author

David Pereira
Product Leader, Content Creator, Speaker

Product Leader with 15+ years of experience. Currently located in Munich, Germany and striving to help companies create value faster. I'm a Partner at Value Rebels and Interim Chief Product Officer at omoqo. My passion is helping product teams overcome their challenges and deliver REAL value faster. Almost every product team is trapped somehow, untrapping them is what drives me.

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